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The Battle of Mazandaran
from the Hamza Nama of Akbar

Click for a larger image.


This large-scale painting depicts the Battle of Mazandaran, an event in the Persian romance of the mythical adventures and battles of Amir Hamzah, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, recorded in the famous "Hamzahnamah" (Book of Hamzah). The "Hamzahnamah" was begun around 1564 under the sponsorship of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) and was completed in approximately fifteen years.

This painting is number 38 in the 7th volume of the "Hamzahnamah", as inscribed between the legs of the man in the bottom center. It depicts a battle scene in which the protagonists Khwajah 'Umar and Hamzah (nicknamed Sahib Qiran, "Owner of the Epochs") and their armies engage in fierce battle. Originally, the faces were depicted, subsequently erased by iconoclasts, and repainted in more recent times. Only the face of the groom wearing an orange turban in the center of the left edge has been left untouched. Immediately above this figure, a soldier in a studded gold tunic has a disjointed face, revealing how an old border was removed and faces retouched.

Approximately 50 painters worked on the project under the supervision of the famous artists Mir Sayyid 'Ali and 'Abd al-Samad, who both had worked ca. 1522-35 on the royal "Shahnamah" of the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp. Although a number of paintings are linked to specific artists, this one does not bear a particular attribution mark.

Date: c.1564-1579. Held by the Library of Congress


Back to The Hamzanama of Akbar, c. 1570




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